Dan Sadin

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Photos & Interview By Dana Jacobs

Dan Sadin is an LA-based artist who is known for playing guitar in the band, FRENSHIP. Dan just released his second single as a solo artist called “Here Comes The HeartBreak.” His full EP just came out June 22nd. We chatted with Dan about his solo work, his new singles, and what we can expect from him in the upcoming months. Enjoy!

HEM: You’ve spent the majority of your music career creating for other artists. Can you describe how it feels to be able to release solo work?

It’s both really exciting and scary at the same time. I’ve loved all of the work I’ve done and am grateful for projects I’ve been a part of, but I also think I’ve partially used that as an excuse to avoid looking at myself and my own career. Honestly, I was scared of putting myself out there and being rejected as an artist. But so far the response has been really positive and this experience has been incredibly rewarding. I feel like I’m learning so much about my own music and myself going through this whole release.

HEM: What does it mean to you to produce and release songs you know will be performed only by you? Does it change the songwriting process when you know a song will be going to another artist?

Well, it’s pretty cool. I get to create the music that I want to hear. But at the same time I can be a lot tougher of a judge on myself than others. And sometimes that holds back the process. But some of the songs off the EP (as well as others I’m working on) started as songs that were meant for outside artists. Or they were written with friends not specifically for this project. I’ve actually stumbled upon some of my favorite material that way. It almost frees you from your own concept of what you “can do” as your own artist. If you are able put yourself into a different context (like writing for someone else), sometimes you see different shades of yourself reflecting back in the mirror; parts of yourself that might not have been visible to you before that moment.

HEM: How did it feel to open for FRENSHIP? What was it like to have to transition from solo act to member of the band back to back?

It was total family vibes. They were super gracious adding me to their bill and letting me share their tour with them in that way. My set was just an acoustic guitar and me. Sometimes Celeste, our keyboardist, would come up and sing a few songs with me. But their audience was warm and welcoming and it was pretty seamless transitioning from my set to theirs. I was run down by the end of the tour, it was 2 months long, but I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. I feel like I was able to build up a rock solid foundation as a solo performer.

HEM: FRENSHIP is a remarkably tight-knit group. How do you think your relationship with the band has influenced the process of crafting your solo work?

James and Brett are extremely talented songwriters and both of them have their own unique styles. I have a lot of respect for their craft and they have pushed me to work harder and become better. I think the biggest takeaway from watching them create and perform is that they are all about feeling – if it doesn’t feel good, true, genuine, then it’s not right. And sometimes you don’t get it right on the first try. But as long as you’re always striving for the real thing, the real feelings, I think you’re going to be an effective artist.

HEM: Both “Here Comes The Heartbreak” and “The Way That It Hurts” have deeply personal lyrics. What’s the creative process behind taking such emotional events and transforming them into art?

At first, I don’t think it was intentional. Honestly, I have a really hard time getting in touch with my feelings and being able to communicate them to anybody. Being open and vulnerable is not something that comes easily to me. I think as a result, these songs were the necessary, cathartic release for those thoughts and feelings. And then in looking back on them and reflecting, I’ve realized that not only are they the expression of everything that was going on in my life, but they have provided an opportunity to open up and speak about some of these issues surrounding vulnerability and strength in our society today. These songs have given me the means to get in touch with my feelings again, in a positive, productive way.

HEM: Give us an inside look on a typical day in your studio. Do you tend to have a specific creative process or will you let creative inspiration come as it may?

There isn’t a typical day, haha. It kind of changes depending on what I’m working on. When I have sessions with other writers, I enjoy bringing them into the studio space, we talk for a bit, and I pick a guitar or other instrument to put in their hands. I like seeing how someone reacts to an instrument, it’s soul, and what their instinct/natural reaction is to do with it. I think it helps guide the session in a fun, honest way.

When I’m working on my own music, I try to foster the same experience for myself. But I often feel like I’m trudging through mud until I hit that creative spark and then I chase it for as long as it’ll last.

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HEM: Beyond your own personal experiences, what else do you use as inspiration for your songs?

For my own songs, I can’t write about anything other than personal experiences. I can go as far as my own observations of my friends or the world around me, but that’s about it. I wish I could write a story that was removed from my own experience, but nothing ever feels right or honest when I try that. So I guess I’m kind of narrow minded when it comes to inspiration, haha.

HEM: What do you hope listeners will take away from the full EP? 

I hope they’ll be able to find a piece of themselves in these songs. In sharing these experiences from my life, I hope others can see they’re not alone in feeling these things.

HEM: What’s your favorite song on the EP? What makes it special to you?

That’s tough. My favorite thing about this EP is that each song is different from the next. Each serves such a specific purpose for being there and also represents different aspects of my influences, my experiences, and me. I can’t choose one.

HEM: You have a degree in guitar and songwriting. Did you ever feel pressured, from society or other voices, to pursue a more “practical” career?

Haha, nope. I think I kind of made my bed when I decided to get a degree like that. I do sometimes wish I had gotten a more broad degree in something completely unrelated:  International Relations? Philosophy? History?…maybe then I’d be able to write songs that aren’t strictly from personal experience…haha.

HEM: What artists do you cite as your most important musical influences?

I’ve said in the past that I feel like I’ve kind of grown up twice. The first time was the standard kid/growth phase, where I was trying to figure out who I was, what I liked. So while there are some artists that I’ve carried with me from that part of my life I think my second growth phase is more applicable to what I’m doing now as an artist. This phase was as an adult, I knew who I was and could directly pick the things I liked and wanted to discover. I’d say these artists would be, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith, Rainer Maria Rilke.

HEM: You choose to go by your maternal grandfather’s last name. Why is it important to you to honor him in that way?

Sadin is actually part of my given name; it’s one of my middle names (I have two). While the rest of my family is very creative, no one else is actually musical. I feel like I have my grandfather to thank for my life of music. He also died when I was very young so I’ve been fascinated with his story. And I feel like he never took the opportunity to pursue his music. Instead, he went into the family business and raised a wonderful family. His daughter raised me and maybe this is my way of thanking him for giving up his passion to support his family? Either way I think this is definitely my way of carrying on his legacy. I have to say, as well, that I love my father very much and mean no disrespect in not carrying the family name professionally.

HEM: What can we look forward to from Dan Sadin in the coming months?

I have a show coming up on July 24th at Madame Siam in Los Angeles supporting my friend talker. Our other close friends, Dr. Doctor are on the bill as well. Aside from that show, I’ll definitely be playing more and am working on more music to be putting out in the fall hopefully!

Check out Dan's new self-titled EP here: